photo of a man skiing
Top Tips

5 Top Tips for Skiing with t1d!

All of these tips are from my personal experience. I have lived in the French Alps for four winter seasons, so I hope these tips help you!

1. The cold can increase insulin absorption time

insulin absorption time - skiing with t1d

When it is cold our blood vessels constrict. This means there is a smaller surface area for insulin to absorb into the blood.

This can cause spikes after eating, so it might be a good idea to inject a little while before eating to allow absorption time.

2. Everyone’s sugars react differently

Skiing uses a lot of energy, so most expect more hypo’s. However, with slower insulin absorption and potential adrenaline spikes from nerves, sugars can spike unexpectedly.

Remember sugar levels do not have to be in range 100% of the time, so my advice is to keep a close eye on your levels and take small correction doses when necessary. Try not to rage bolus if you have high levels!

3. Carry a decent snack

snack skiing with t1d

Don’t just shove a couple biscuits in your pocket and think this will be enough (speaking from experience here).

Take fast acting glucose, like glucose tablets or Kendal Mint Cake which are easy to fit into a pocket.

Also take some complex carbs with you like a energy bar or some biscuits.

You are going to need access to a substantial snack, so make sure you have money with you to buy food/drinks.

4. Store your insulin right

When skiing, keep your insulin in a pocket closer to your body to prevent it from freezing.

Thermal pockets might be better than pockets in your outside layer!

Another tip is to consider the temperature of your accommodation. Often chalets, apartments and hotel rooms are really hot, so make sure your insulin is in a cooler part of the room or the fridge.

5. CGM’s/FGM’s and the cold 

Sometimes CGM’s/FGM’s do not like the cold and might display ‘sensor too cold’.

skiing and t1d testing

Always carry your finger stick monitor so you have a way of checking your levels. And of course make sure you have strips and needles for the duration of your day and trip! 

Thank you for reading my top tips on skiing with t1d! I hope you found this useful. Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram! 

If you like this post, be sure to check out How I ran Tough Mudder while managing Type 1! and Peanut Butter Bites!

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Fitness, Top Tips

How to handle a hyper mid-workout

When our sugar levels spike during a workout it can be super confusing and we are left not knowing what to do. Here are my tips on preventing sugar spikes and how to correct it!

Why do hyper’s hit mid-workout?

why hyper's can hit mid-workout

One of the main reasons a hyper hits mid-workout is due to adrenaline.

Your body secretes adrenaline to increase your heart rate and increase oxygen delivery to working muscles. Adrenaline also increases glucose release into the blood so you have plenty of energy to workout.

Normally, small amounts of insulin would be secreted from the pancreas to ensure glucose can be used as energy. Of course people living with type 1 diabetes cannot do this, so we must adjust our prep.

The aim of the game is to find trends during exercise, e.g. when you spike, when you drop and what helps you to stay in range.

Don’t panic if you get it wrong, sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn. I used to get it wrong all the time and it would result in me having to stop my workout.

Prepping to workout

There are so many factors to consider when prepping to workout, some to consider are:

sleep - hypers during workout
  • The type of exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Insulin doses
  • How much you slept on the previous night
  • Recent alcohol consumption
  • Stage of menstrual cycle

In order to get your prep right, you have to record and learn how certain factors impact your sugar levels. For example, if I sleep less than 7 hours the night before weight training, I can expect my sugar levels to spike. I have noticed this time and time again, therefore I know my workout prep requires more insulin.

The menstrual cycle is a big factor for women to consider. Sugar levels tend to spike at certain stages, so it is a really good idea for women to track their sugar levels over a few months and apply what is noticed.

In summary, take a few weeks/months (as long as you need) to track how your sugar levels react to situations. You can then adjust your nutrition, training method and insulin dose to accommodate and keep your levels in range!

Correcting a hyper mid-workout

cardio - hyper's during workout

We need to be careful not to over correct here, the last thing we want is to drop into a hypo!

The type of workout I’m doing decides how I treat high sugars.

If I’m weight lifting I will inject a bigger correction dose (usually 1-2 units) and swap to cardio based exercise until my sugars come back down.

If I’m doing cardio and spike (this is pretty rare for me), I will inject a smaller dose (1/2- 1 unit) and continue with cardio.

When sugar levels spike above 13mmol/L I would recommend stopping your workout and continuing once your levels return to normal. This rarely happens to me, but if it does, I will calculate a correction dose and go for a slow walk. This is how I treat hyper’s normally.

If your sugar levels consistently spike while working out, you need to bring this up when you see your consultant. They will help you make a plan and can give you tips on how to calculate your insulin doses based on your sugar level data.

wood love summer writing

Thank you for reading how to handle a hyper mid-workout! I hope you found this useful, be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out How to handle a hypo mid-workout! and my Simple guide to fitness with diabetes!

Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

5 ways to handle high carb meals

Sometimes all we fancy is a nice burger and chips, but the anxiety of our sugar levels spiking stops us.

Here are my top 5 ways to handle high carb meals, so you can eat that cheat meal and stay in range!

1. Nail your insulin to carb ratio

Finding your insulin to carb ratio should be part of your consultation with your endocrinologist.

Insulin to cab ratio is essentially how many units of insulin you need per 10 grams of carbs. If you know this number, it makes it 10x easier to figure out how much insulin you need for each meal.

If you are unsure of your ratio, be sure to ask your consultant at your next appointment!

2. Pair it with protein and good fats

Having a balanced meal with carbs, protein and fat is essential. The presence of fat and protein slows down the digestion of carbs, slowing down the absorption of sugar. This really helps to keep sugar levels balanced post mealtime.

So ensure you are having a portion of protein – a palm sized portion of meat/fish/tofu, or 2-3 eggs for example.

Also ensure you are consuming good fats with your meals – by good fats I mean unsaturated fats. E.g. extra virgin olive oil, avocado, hummus, nuts, seeds etc.

3. Staying active is your bestie

walking - high carb meals

Another trick I like to use when eating higher carb is to walk post meal.

I like to go for a leisurely walk with my family/friends for around 30 minutes, or until my glucose comes back down into range. I will usually begin walking when my glucose goes above 9mmol/L with sharp rise (arrow pointing up on my FGM).

This not only keeps sugars balanced, but it is also a lovely routine to get into for socialising and for mental health!

4. Go for brown carbs

 brown rice- high carb meals

If you can, opt for brown or wholegrain carb sources. I know this is harder when eating out, so don’t sweat it if you can’t – it is fine to eat white carbs every now and then!

The reason I recommend brown carbs is because they contain higher amounts of fibre, protein, essential fatty acids and micronutrients than white carbs.

Therefore, opting for brown for the most part of your diet is adding essential nutrients!

5. Give your insulin enough time to kick in

Another tip I have is to give your insulin enough time to kick in. This amount of time varies between individuals, but it is a tip that has helped me so much!

Before higher carb meals (for me that is 60g of carbs or more) I will inject about 20 minutes before eating. – This works wonders for me, if you want to try out this tip I recommend starting slowly to avoid hypo’s.

So start with injecting 10 minutes before eating, then increase or decrease this time if you spike afterwards. Set a timer straight after you administer the insulin so you know exactly when to eat!

Experiment and adjust this time until you find what suits you! – Using an FGM or CGM is especially helpful for this!

timer - high carb meal tips

Thank you for reading 5 ways to handle high carb meals, I hope you found this useful! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check 5 ways to improve digestion! and 5 Easy ways to lower your HbA1c!

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Top Tips

The New Year’s Resolution ‘hype’

2022 has just begun, which means all of the ‘new year, new me’ propaganda is being thrown in everyone’s face.

Please remember

New Year's resolution

Don’t get me wrong, setting new goals and making positive lifestyle changes is vital! This is all part of growing and developing, but sometimes the whole hype around having to set a year’s resolution can be toxic and unsustainable.

So please don’t get dragged into this. Some red flags to look out for include people or posts making claims like ‘how to lose X amount of weight in 2 weeks’.

Remember it does not have to be a new week, month or year in order to make a positive change.

A summary on how to make sustainable changes

  • Make a list or mind map of goals you would like to accomplish (short and long term)
  • Pick your top 3 MOST important goals
Goal setting - new year's resolution
  • Make them realistic and specific – I.e. breaking long term goals into smaller tasks.
  • Find motivation, and more importantly discipline – ask yourself why you set this goal? This is why you get up everyday and complete a small task in order to reach that important goal!
  • Remember to look after your mental health. Prioritise tasks that you enjoy, self-care is productive and is an essential part of getting to where you want to be.
  • Embrace your emotions – if you’ve had a bad day, it is what it is! Take a few hours or even days off, let your emotions out, then get back to it!

For more info, check out How to set sustainable goals for yourself!

Thank you for reading The New Year’s Resolution ‘hype’, I wish you a very happy new year! I hope you found this post useful! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out 5 foods packed with hidden sugars! and Jack Iredale on managing type 1, while playing professional football!

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red and white happy birthday cake
Top Tips

Merry Christmas from Defying Diabetes!

merry Christmas

This is just a quick Merry Christmas from us and a massive thank you to all of the amazing Defying Diabetes readers!

I’ll keep this post short, but here are a couple of things to do to get the most out of your Christmas.

  1. Stay hydrated
  2. Go for a walk with your family
  3. Tell your loved ones you love them
  4. Play a game!
  5. And eat lots of amazing food and drink!
Merry Christmas from Defying Diabetes

Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Christmas Turkey Curry Recipe! and Delicious Banana Brownie Recipe!

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Top Tips

Christmas activity ideas!

This weeks post is a little different, I want to focus on mental health and general wellbeing. Christmas is such a lovely time of year, it often passes by so quickly, leaving us thinking we should have been more festive!

So I’m going to share some fun Christmas activity ideas you can do with your family and friends to make the most of the festive season!

1. Create a Christmas movie list

This is something I love to do every year with my family! There is nothing better than snuggling up with a blanket, a hot drink and watching a great movie!

Making a list also gets you super excited, here are some ideas for your Christmas movie list:

home alone
  • Elf
  • Home alone 1 & 2
  • The Christmas Chronicles 1 & 2 (Netflix)
  • The Grinch (2018)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • Love Actually
  • Gremlins

2. Go to a Christmas Market

Christmas markets are absolutely beautiful, there is so much to enjoy including:

Christmas market - Christmas activities
  • Christmas lights
  • Traditional food and drinks
  • Gift buying
  • Decoration Inspo and buying
  • Ice skating
  • Meeting Santa with little ones

You can also find some amazing gifts to support small local businesses.

The majority of Christmas markets are outdoors which is great for COVID. Being outdoors helps to decrease the spread of the virus, so if you are worried about COVID, this might be a good activity to choose!

3. Get baking!

I absolutely love baking, especially during the Christmas season! So grab a family member, or a friend and get in the kitchen!

Here are some ideas!:

4. Host a Christmas cocktail competition

Obviously this one is more for adults, I usually split everyone into teams of two (you can do it individually!) and every team has to come up with and make a cocktail.

After trying every cocktail, each team votes which one is the best. It can get quite competitive, but I think it’s great fun!

Some other Christmas activity ideas:

gingerbread house - Christmas activities
  • Complete a Christmas puzzel
  • Build a gingerbread house
  • Make mulled wine
  • Play secret Santa
  • Make your own decorations
  • Christmas photoshoot

Thank you for reading The best Christmas activities! I hope you enjoyed this post and got some great ideas! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out How to stay on track this Christmas! and Is ‘diabetic’ chocolate really healthier?

Recipes, Top Tips

Delicious alcohol-free drinks!

Here are some delicious alcohol-free drink ideas for people out there looking to cut down on alcohol consumption! I personally love to have a drink, but on the occasions I don’t fancy it, I never want to sit and just drink water!

This post is designed to hopefully give you some cool alternatives, so you can always enjoy a drink, whether it is alcoholic or not!

Alcohol-free spirits

Gordon’s (gin) – This is a plain, zero sugar and alcohol free alternative. It is pretty cheap and can be found in any supermarket across to UK.

Caleaño (gin) – If you like flavoured gins definitely go for Caleaño! It is infused with inca and juniper berries and is absolutely delicious! This is available on Amazon.

Clean R by Clean co (Rum) – This is a low alcohol alternative, 1.2% vol. I like to use this in cocktails and it tastes just like normal rum! This is also available in any supermarket.

Feragaia (Whiskey) – This is a Scottish alcohol free whiskey, and it is probably the best whiskey alternative I have tried! Available on Amazon, or use the official Feragaia website for a discount off your first order!

Mocktail recipes

mocktails - alcohol-free drinks
  • Mojito – a shot of alcohol free rum over ice, followed by the juice of 1 lime, a handful of mint leaves (chop slightly for more flavour) 1/2 tsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger and top up with soda water.
  • Strawberry old fashioned – a shot of alcohol free whiskey over ice, 2 crushed strawberries, rind of 1 orange, 1/2 tsp brown sugar and 2 drops of bitters.
  • Pornstar Martini – I like to buy a bottle of Funkin Passion Fruit Martini Cocktail Mixer and add alcohol free vodka to the recipe. It’s super easy and delicious!
  • Moscow Mule – A shot of alcohol free vodka or rum over ice, juice of 1/2 lime, some mint leaves and top up with ginger beer. This is one of my favourites!

Other drink alternatives

Remedy - alcohol-free drinks
  • Remedy- This brand offers alcohol-free kombucha and kefir drinks in lots of different flavours (coconut kefir and blood orange switchel are my favourites!). Wetherspoon’s now stock Remedy so make sure you check them out!

Check Remedy out here!

  • CleanCO – This brand makes both alcohol free and low alcohol alternatives. The clean G&T and clean Rum and cola are delicious and are 0.5% vol.

Check CleanCo out here!

Thank you for reading my delicious alcohol-free drink ideas! I hope you give some of these a try, and let me know how it goes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Top tips on alcohol consumption and diabetes control! and my Sun-dried tomato and chicken pasta dish!

Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

How to lower your cholesterol!

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is vital for your wellbeing and for disease prevention. Having high cholesterol puts us at an increased risk of getting cardiovascular disease, strokes and many other health issues.

Keep reading for my top tips!

1. Find out what your cholesterol is

blood test - cholesterol levels

The first place to start is to chat with your doctor and ask for a cholesterol test. If you have diabetes, cholesterol should be checked at least twice a year alongside your HbA1c.

It really is important to keep track of your cholesterol results as well as your HbA1c as high cholesterol can have the same long-term consequences as high glucose.

When cholesterol is high, it can damage the lining of blood vessels leading plaque build up.

This also allows you to set goals with your doctor to better your health.

These are the following cholesterol blood test goals:

  • Total cholesterol: Under 5mmol/L
  • High-density lipids (HDL): below 4 mmol/L
  • Low-density lipids (LDL): Below 3mmol/L
  • Serum triglycerides: below 2.3 mmol/L

2. Limit processed foods

Firstly it is really important to understand that there are different types of fat, some of which are not great for your health, and others that are fundamental for your body and health.

Processed foods tend to be packed with what people call ‘bad fats’. This is known as saturated fat and trans fats. Essentially, you want to consuming as little of these fat types as possible.

This is because ‘bad fats’ cause the health problems associated with having high cholesterol.

The best way to avoid processed foods is to make your meals and snacks from scratch. Also think about limiting red meat sources as they are high in saturated fats.

I also want to make it clear that consuming what many call ‘bad fats’ occasionally is absolutely fine. Please remember that every food group has a place in the diet, it is just about making food that promotes health the bulk of your diet.

3. Increase ‘good fats’

good fats to lower cholesterol

‘Good fats’ are vital for health because they help to lower ‘bad fats’ in the blood. Good fats are known as HDL and bad as LDL.

Include some of the following in your daily diet:

  • Avocado
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts and seeds (walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds etc)
  • Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna etc)
  • Eggs
  • Dark chocolate
  • Yogurt

Please do not be afraid to include the above foods in your diet! I have personally increased the amount of oily fish in my diet and I have seen many benefits. Food is your friend, never the enemy!

4. Support your liver

The liver is actually the main organ that controls the amount of cholesterol in the blood. HDL’s are released from the liver when LDL’s are too high in the blood. HDL’s then attach to LDL’s and move them back into storage in the liver.

This process is absolutely vital, but can become compromised when the liver is under pressure.

To support your liver try to do the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Eat the rainbow
  • Eat sour foods (lemon juice, rocket, artichoke, watercress etc)
  • Don’t smoke
  • Hydrate!

5. Live an active life

exercise to lower cholesterol

Having an increased body weight and sedentary lifestyle puts us at a higher risk of having elevated cholesterol.

Therefore, it is vital to make movement and exercise a part of your daily routine.

Try to complete at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, but try to do more! If you only have time to do 20-30 minutes, opt for high intensity types to get more out of the time.

Most importantly, choose exercise you enjoy because this makes it easier to stick to a routine long-term!

Thank you so much for reading how to lower you cholesterol! I hope you found this post useful and you learnt something new today! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out How to keep your kidneys healthy with diabetes and How to read food labelling effectively!

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Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

5 ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

Many people often worry about getting health complications such as type 2 diabetes, so here are 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes!

Always remember preventing health issues before they become a problem is optimal! If you are concerned about your health, go and see your doctor and look at ways to improve your lifestyle!

1. Switch up your carb sources

fibre for type 2 diabetes prevention

I have said this across so many posts, and I’ll say it again! Opt for brown and wholegrain carbohydrate sources as they contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals than white carbs.

Fibre is very important for the digestive system and maintaining balanced sugar levels. Fibre not only feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut to stimulate optimal digestion and nutrient absorption, but it also slows digestion down, which helps to prevent sudden sugar spikes.

Bear in mind the recommended daily fibre intake is 30g, so pack wholegrain oats, grains, legumes and a variety of fruit and vegetables into your daily diet.

2. Get moving!

get moving for type 2 diabetes prevention

Type 2 diabetes is majorly linked to having a sedentary lifestyle, so get up and get moving to reduce your risk!

If you are a student, or have an office job, I highly recommend scheduling some time into your diary to make sure you take breaks and get some activity in. Whether this is going for a walk on your lunch break, getting to the gym before your shift starts, or walking the dog, make sure you get it done!

The best way to keep active is to find what you enjoy. If you are bored of your current exercise plan, the chances are you won’t stick to it! So try something new, book into a Zumba class, go for a swim, even go for a walk with your family/friends. It doesn’t necessarily matter what form of exercise it is, as long as you are moving your body.

3. Check what you are drinking

coffee - type 2 diabetes prevention

Many people switch up their diet which is fantastic, but people often forget to check what they are drinking!

If you are drinking many cups of tea or coffee a day, with milk and sugar, this unfortunately will add up to a lot of sugar!

Try to reduce (ideally eliminate) any added sugar to teas or coffees, and switch to herbal teas if you are open to it.

Herbal teas have many health benefits, for example green tea is packed with antioxidants, and lemon with ashwaganda tea is fantastic for digestion! If you find herbal teas bland, add a tiny drizzle of honey to make it taste a bit nicer!

4. Get your vitamin D!

Studies have shown that having optimal vitamin D levels is linked to preventing insulin resistance. This essentially means that vitamin D helps the body to utilise sugar effectively, helping sugar to get inside of cells and maintaining optimal blood glucose levels.

I’m not personally very big on supplements, but if you are from somewhere that lacks sun, I would recommend supplementing vitamin D.

Take a supplement that contains 10 micrograms (400 IU) a day (according to NHS guidelines) all year round.

Do not take more than 100 micrograms (4000 IU) a day.

If you are looking at vitamin D supplements for your children, double check the NHS website right here for doses.

5. Eat your anti-inflammatories!

increase insulin sensitivity for type 2 diabetes prevention

Anti-inflammatory foods and herbs help to promote insulin sensitivity. So try to incorporate some of these in your daily diet!

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 80g blueberries
  • 1 avocado
  • 150g salmon
  • 5-7 walnuts

Thank you for reading 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes! I really hope this helps you to make some positive changes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to read 5 Easy ways to lower your HbA1c! and my Sausage Casserole Recipe!

Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

How to keep your kidneys healthy with diabetes

This week I am giving some tips on how to keep your kidneys healthy when living with diabetes!

Lots of people living with diabetes often worry about the complications that occur due to persistent hyperglycaemia. So, I decided to write a series on how to keep organs and systems healthy, and preventing complications from occurring, aside from keeping sugar levels stable!

So be sure to check out How to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes!

1. Drink up!

drink water for healthy kidneys

Drinking adequate water is essential for optimal kidney function. The role of the kidneys is to filter the blood and remove toxins. Without adequate water intake, the efficiency of toxin elimination decreases, which makes the kidneys work harder!

Therefore, it is vital to drink at least 2 litres of water a day (more if you are active!) to aid kidney function and toxin elimination.

To make water more interesting and fresh, add fruits such as lemon, lime or strawberries!

2. Keep your blood pressure in check!

Having high blood pressure can put stress on the blood vessels and filtration tubules in the kidneys. This can lead to weakness and damage, causing protein to leak into the urine.

Having persistent high blood glucose as well as high blood pressure increases the risk of getting kidney disease.

Therefore, it is imperative to control blood pressure as well as blood glucose. This can be achieved by:

Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight (summary below):

Avoid processed foods and table salt. Season food with natural sea salt as your source of sodium.

foods for healthy kidneys

– Eat brown and wholemeal carbs to aid blood glucose control and to add fibre.

– Choose unprocessed protein sources such as chicken, turkey, beans and legumes.

– Eat the rainbow to pack in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Challenge yourself and try to eat 7 a day!

– Get your omega 3’s! Found in salmon, walnuts and chia seeds.

Exercising!

-Try to get a mixture of cardio and resistance training in your weekly regime. Different types of exercise have different benefits so always try and incorporate both types!

Cardio helps to decrease blood pressure and strengthen the heart, and resistance training strengthens bones and builds muscle!

3. Alcohol and smoking

Drinking excessive alcohol can make the kidneys less effective at filtering the blood and removing toxins. Alcohol also causes severe dehydration that could contribute to the formation of kidney stones, infections and other conditions that will cause kidney damage.

So make sure you are watching your alcohol intake and drink sensibly!

Smoking is a no go! Cigarettes are packed with chemicals that increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, blood clots and many more diseases!

So if you smoke, I urge you to try and quit. Smoking causes damage to not only the kidneys, but all organs and body tissue.

4. Get your checks!

tests for healthy kidneys

In the UK blood and urine checks are carried out at least twice a year.

These check ups are vital in looking at your general health and to catch any complications of diabetes early!

If you have any kidney damage this will be picked up on urine and blood tests so doctors can act quickly to prevent further damage.

So please make time for these appointments and put your health first!

Thank you for reading How to keep your kidneys healthy with diabetes! I hope you found this information useful and this post helps you to make positive lifestyle changes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Simple guide to fitness with diabetes! and 5 foods diabetics should be eating!

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